The World Health Organization reported at the beginning of 2020 that the global number of people suffering from depression has reached 264 million, and that it is in fact the leading cause of disability worldwide. Within the US, NIH estimates that more than 17 million people suffer from depression — 7.1% of the population.

With the increase in stressors faced each day in daily life, including overwork, financial stress, family issues, technology overload and the 24/7 news cycle, it’s not a surprise that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to care for our mental health.

It’s never been more important for people to educate themselves on the importance of self-care and as well as the options that are available to them when they do face a struggle with depression or anxiety. The most common prescribed treatment for depression is antidepressants. NBC reported in 2016 that a startling 1 in 6 Americans take antidepressants or some other psychiatric drug.

Medication can indeed play an important role in treatment mental illness; however, some experts are concerned that such a sharp rise in their use could post an outsized risk of unintended consequences, including dependency and overdoses. Many doctors are hoping to educate patients on holistic treatment strategies that are available to be used even in conjunction with medication to improve the outcome of treatments.

Overcoming Depression With Holistic Tactics

One such doctor is Dr. Jason Helfrich, the CEO of 100% Chiropractic with nearly forty clinics across the US. As a chiropractor, he helps his patients implement holistic wellness strategies that optimize both their mental and physical health. He is particularly focused on the connection between physical movement and mental health and how patients can leverage the former to improve their mental wellbeing. 

We sat down with Dr. Jason to get his perspective on how to overcome depression as well as some of the specific tactics he gives his patients for dealing with depression holistically.

Grit Daily: How would you briefly describe your overall approach to overcoming depression?

Dr. J: We realize depression is a very complex issue stemming from many potential causes (biochemical, environmental, life experience and traumas just to name a few). Thus we offer several avenues that help with people’s depression.

1) Spinal Alignment: Taking a look at any potential nerve interference (known as subluxation) that is limiting the body’s ability to function at full capacity. This includes a thorough analysis of the cervical spine biomechanically to see where correction of the spinal misalignments can allow the nervous system to flow free and clear. 

2) Pain Relief: Chronic pain is often a cause of depression as the body is stuck in a survival mode and has a hard time allowing enjoyment of anything. Chiropractic care offers natural, safe and effective relief of this pain.

3) Diet: We recommend incorporating supplements that aid in bringing a state of balance back to the body. Our Mojo nutritional line is built specifically for this and has shown incredible results with depression.

4) Exercise: Regular exercise is key to keeping your mental and physical alignment in balance.

5) Often overlooked is simply providing an environment of healing. Helping that patient to realize just how amazing they are through a caring environment. We strive with every patient to make their visit the best part of their day.

6) Helping patients understand the reaction that drugs and medication cause in their body and when appropriate helping them work with their medical doctor to get off these drugs

The Mental and Physical Connection

GD: What do readers need to know about the mind and body connection when it comes to dealing with depression? How big of an impact does physical health have on symptoms of depression?

Dr. J: Physical health is an essential component of depression. Not only living a life pain free but also focusing on optimal nutrition, exercise, self affirmation, gratitude realization and most importantly nerve flow from brain to body that is allowed to flow free and clear of interference.

Every function in the human body is composed of messages from the brain (hormone release, mood, motivation, love, appreciation, etc) to the body. We want to unlock that innate ability to be healthy. Our bodies are composed of energy; how that energy vibrates is up to us more than people realize.

GD: Could you give us two physical or mental tactics that readers could incorporate into their daily routine to manage depression?

Dr. J: Chiropractic adjustments, Vitamin D, Omega 3s are all underutilized.  Probiotics to work on gut health are also very important. Lastly, use daily affirmations, exercise, and other alternative care and therapy.

GD: What unique advantages can chiropractic care provide for managing depression?

Dr. J: A focus on getting to the cause; not simply medicating the patient to hide symptoms. Chiropractic care provides drug-free, side effect-free treatment.

How should you go about seeking a chiropractor who also has expertise in mental health and/or treating depression?

Dr. J: Have a conversation with your chiropractor and ask what they know. Have they treated patients with depression before and how knowledgeable are they in the treatment of depression naturally? Be honest and upfront with your doctor so they can provide you the best possible treatment plan.

Is there anything those suffering from depression shouldn’t push themselves to do?

Dr. J: No drastic moves. Formulate a game plan along with your healthcare team to get you the best results. Diet, exercise, medications, chiropractic care, other alternative care all need to be considered to achieve the absolute best results for the patient.

Are there any misconceptions out there about treating depression that you’d like to bring awareness to? 

Dr. J: I think we have many dangerous medications on the market that need to be avoided when possible. It’s not always the “easy” fix that is appropriate. Depression is very real and even though it may not make sense to the family and friends of the patient suffering doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely real. Trying to talk someone out of depression is not the way to address this.